Baked Alaska has become one of my family’s Christmas desserts, not just for the taste but because everyone loves torching the meringue. Professional pastry chefs use the large propane torches wielded by construction workers, but you can find smaller butane versions at cookware shops. Pyrotechnics aside, this is a classic dessert that has never gone out of favor and can be made in a multitude of variations.
In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks,
Strain the custard into a clean bowl and cool over an ice bath until room temperature. Stir the banana purée into the custard. Cover and refrigerate the custard for at least 4 hours or up to overnight. Churn in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Freeze until scoopable, about 4 hours, depending on your freezer.
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over hot water. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, vanilla extract, coffee or espresso, and salt until combined. In an electric mixer, whip the whites on medium-high speed until they begin to increase in volume. Whip in the sugar in a slow, steady stream. Continue to whip until stiff, glossy peaks form. Stir the chocolate into the egg mixture. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture in 2 additions. Spread the batter evenly into the pan. Bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Run a paring knife around the inside edge of the pan. Place a cutting board on top of the pan and invert the pan and cutting board. Remove the pan and carefully peel off the parchment paper. With a glass or round cutter, cut the cake into eight 2½-inch rounds.
Place the Cake rounds on a baking sheet. Place a scoop of ice cream on each, making sure to leave a little more than a Winch border of cake around the ice cream. Freeze the cakes for 1 hour or up to overnight. If freezing overnight, cover with plastic wrap.
In a bowl, whisk together the egg whites and sugar until combined. Put the bowl in a saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly until the egg whites are very warm. Remove the whites from the hot water and whip with an electric mixer on medium-high speed with a stand mixer, or high speed with a handheld mixer, until stiff, glossy peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature. Remove the cakes from the freezer. Using a small spatula, spread the meringue over the ice cream, completely covering it but leaving the cake edges exposed. If desired, this can be done several hours in advance. Do not cover. Keep frozen until ready to serve.
There are two ways to bake the Alaskas. You can either brown the meringue with a propane or butane torch, or bake them in the oven. If you use a torch, constantly move the flame over the meringue about
The cake can be made 2 days in advance. Store the cake, well wrapped in plastic wrap, at room temperature, or freeze for up to 1 week. The baked Alaskas can be assembled and frozen for up to 24 hours. Do not cover. Bake the meringue just before serving.
Using a large metal spatula, transfer the Alaskas from the sheet pan onto plates. Serve immediately, with a pitcher of cocoa sauce alongside.
© 2006 Emily Luchetti. All rights reserved.